Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The following piece is about how, among the many things we need in life, experience can be very valuable, but for some of us, it seems as if we never learn from it, and as time marches on we find ourselves unchanged by it.
We lack a sensitivity to draw from experience the elements that would make another person more sympathetic, compassionate, patient and wise. Instead of maturing, as the changes of life and time pass by, we lack the intuition or wisdom to draw from events the very things that build character. The following piece (which has to be read more than once) is about that very phenomenon. How experience is valuable but only if we have ---

"some breadth of ability and faculty to seize relations, and the depth of conscience to read life truly, and quickness of affection to sympathize with it more fully; and a cultivated reverence of mind to know its own ignorance and find the way to other's wisdom.
The materials and occasions of experience may often abound; and yet may remain without change and moral result, because they lack the living mind and molding love to elaborate and shape them. Some men there are whom no lapse of time seems to soften or expand; from whom whole floods of experience will flow off and leave them dry; who pass through events and remember them, and like to call back their outward image again, but are just the same as if the events had been different; who reproduce in age the very sentiments and prejudices they had looked up in youth, and gather nothing from the past but a mood disagreeable and un-genial to the present. They repeat the story of their early days, not as a poem, but as an almanac; they can give you the dates but not the meaning of the changes they have seen; and of the men they have admired they can tell no more than the register and the coffin-plate. To such natures, case-hardened against the elements, time and the seasons come in vain: winter and summer pass but not a crevice opens in the rock where a green thing can push its root. Lacking the susceptibility to appropriate what is given and work it up into the organism of the personal existence, they can only by an abuse of terms be said to have "experience" at all: they lack its diviner conditions, though supplied with its natural variations and changes; if they were to live life over again, they would do and be essentially the same." James Martineau.

No comments: